Today, Good is bringing a fresh perspective to Albany Mennonite Church. The denomination of her youth, the Mennonite tradition, is “really where my heart is, my theology is,” she says, even as she’s trying to stretch her congregation a bit.
She introduced instruments to the traditional a cappella worship. And, she’s bringing Information Age multimedia into Bible study and worship services. On a Sunday last November, she showed a clip from YouTube. “I’m just beginning to stretch the imagination of what worship is and what church is,” she says.
Still, Good is one of just two women leading Mennonite churches in Oregon, and the other is more than twice her age. The dynamics of being young and female are with her every day, she says. “When I walk into the room, I’m the unknown factor,” she says. “I’m representing a possibility that isn’t being tried often. How it works out is going to impact others who are considering taking this risk.”
Ministry at the ‘Bottom of the World’
Into the multi-racial, multi-lingual, multi-cultural urban mix that is Florida City, pastor Audrey Warren is shocking people, too. “You don’t have a boyfriend?” one youth asked.
Romance isn’t at the top of Warren’s to-do list these days. As the only paid clergyperson on staff at Branches UMC, she takes just one day off each week.
“With that one day, when rest is more on my mind, do I really want to go to the beach?” she asks. And yet, not making time to mingle—because dating someone in the church is out of the question—may make meeting someone all the less likely.
That’s a risk, Warren admits. “I think even single males will agree, the risk of loneliness is a [high] risk” for young pastors, she says.
At least for now, Warren wouldn’t have it any other way. The Naples, Fla., native requested a pastoral assignment in the Miami region. Fluent in Spanish, Warren actually wanted to serve where HIV/AIDS, poverty, crime, unemployment, and teen pregnancy are high, while church growth and influence are low.
“A lot of the churches are not thriving because they don’t know how to deal with [this diversity],” she says. “I have a heart for urban ministry and see those churches as being in places where they really can do a lot and bring people into relationship with Jesus Christ.” Warren took a church in a community she says is often described as “the city at the bottom of the world, the last city before you get to the Keys.”